Kimberly Servello's Embroidery Blog

Kimberly Servello - Pattern Drawer and Embroideress

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Technique to Quickly Mount Embroidery on a Slate Frame

"Certainly it was a lovely autumn morning; the leaves were fluttering red to the ground."
Virginia Woolf - A Room of One's Own

Yesterday morning was a beautiful autumn morning here in Pennsylvania.  After a morning walk to the tree farm to tag our Christmas tree, and second breakfast (hobbit-style),  I spent a few hours catching up on some missed stitching time.  Progress is slow on my shawl because I'm learning a new technique.  New to me anyway - long and short stitch.  I've stitched the same petal 3 times, but it's still not photo-worthy.  I will persevere and share it with you when I'm satisfied with the results.

At the Winterthur needlework conference last weekend, I studied crewel embroidery under Nicola Jarvis, from the Royal  School of Needlework.  I had no intention of adding crewel embroidery to my embroidery stitches palette when I signed up for the class.  I've simply learned, from attending needlework seminars,  that when you take a class from an RSN teacher (or the EG / EGA equivalent), you will learn techniques that carry over into your particular field of embroidery.  How timely it was, then, that Nicola's piece included long & short stitch, a stitch I'd just recently decided to use on my shawl.

A very useful tip I learned from Nicola was a quick mount method for the slate frame.  I had a problem getting good tension on the slate frame with this shawl.  Typically, to mount embroidery on a slate frame I fold over 1/2" of material on 2 sides of my fabric, and sew it to create a "hem",  then I run a cord through the channel created by the hem.  The remaining 2 sides of  fabric are sewn to the webbing on the "roller bars".  Last, the frame is assembled and the 2 sides with cord running through them are laced to the slat bars, as shown at left, and the cord helps to strengthen the fabric holding the lacing.

The problem arises when you have too much fabric to roll up on the roller bars, as is the case with a shawl. The hemmed edges quickly get bulkier than the rest of the fabric, which doesn't allow for good tension in the center of the fabric where you need it most.  The solution, other than investing in 2-1/2 foot long slat bars, is shown at right.  Here, you don't "hem" your fabric on the 2 long ends.  You simply place pins evenly along the exposed length of fabric, then lace through the pins as shown.  Notice that the lacing is a little different - the laces run over the slat bar for one pin, then under the slat bar for the next pin.  The ends of the lacing are wrapped around the corners as usual to tie off.  When ready to embroider the unexposed area of fabric, remove the pins, roll the fabric to the new area, place the pins evenly across the area and lace it.

So, I learned 2 techniques in Nicola's crewel class that I could come home and use immediately on my current silk embroidery project.  Over break time in our class, Nicola also shared her experience embroidering Kate Middleton's wedding dress.  We told her she lived a charmed life!


  1. It's so satisfying when you can immediately apply what you've learnt!

  2. How clever that is! I plan to try it. Thank you for sharing this technique.


  3. I love this little tip. I'd been thinking of embroidering a much larger piece, but had no idea how to fit it onto the largest of my slate frames. Thank you so much for sharing this.

    And I wish I could have gone to the needlework conference, but it cross country for me. I'm glad you went.

    By the way, I love the look of your blog. It has been a pleasure reading your entries on your various embroidered works.


  4. Thank you, Kimiko. I'm glad you're enjoying the blog and good luck with your larger piece!

  5. Great job Kimberly Servello..! Your above told techniques are really helpful. Thanks.


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